How to Teach Drawing to Children
by Marvin Bartel
This essay was inspired by an Australian mother whose son, age eight, was feelingdiscouraged and wanted help in learning to draw better. She wanted to know how to helphim. Observation drawing provides the method of choice. Of course observationdrawing is not the only form of good drawing practice, but it is often the best way todevelop drawing skills. Drawing from remembered experiences and drawing based onimagination are good to develop those aspects of thinking. Copy work drawing is notencouraged, but only tolerated if it is self-initiated. Many self-taught artists have learned by copying because it was the only alternative they knew about. However, copywork isnot the best way to learn to draw actual objects, animals, scenes, and people.For an attractively printed version of a previous version of this article with additional photographs, consider ordering a copy of the March, 2007 issue of HomeschoolingHorizons Magazine.
Drawing and Children
hildren who know me sometimes ask me how to draw better.Many children do not know that artists have learned to draw by doing observation-drawing practice. They often assume that you can draw or you can't. Of course this istrue, but it is also true that nearly anybody can learn to draw at any age. Many childrenfeel inferior about their own ability to draw. Too often no teacher or adult has everhelped them learn to make a proper observation. Most teachers have not beeneducated about teaching drawing. Some generalist teachers even say, "That's okay, Ican't draw either." This is the opposite of good motivation. They would never dare say,"That's okay, I can't read and write. I just don't have the talent for it."I explain that drawing ability comes from practice. I call it "practice" so it isn't asintimidating as final products. This essay explains some practice processes that lead tobetter drawing skills. Sometimes children want to develop their practice into moreelaborate finished work. I encourage their desire to finish some works, but I also affirmthe need to do lots of practice that does not have to be finished work. I explain it byusing music analogies. We practice piano a long time to learn some pieces. We don'tworry two much about mistakes while we are learning, but eventually it is good to play arecital. Then I give them some proven ways to practice and encourage them to make amany choices as possible as they learn to draw.I never draw to show a child how to draw do something.